Storm Conditions Freeze Nonprofit Services in Atlanta

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January 13, 2011; Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution | Severe winter storms that snarl traffic and make city travel difficult do more than upset daily routines. They can further stress nonprofits that are having a hard enough time coping on better days with the increased demands for their services.

As the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports, bad weather in metropolitan Atlanta this week "had delivery trucks stopped cold on dangerous roads, and staffers and volunteers left housebound." As the article notes, a truck couldn't unload donated peaches to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, which was closed because of the weather. Similarly, the Antioch Baptist Church North, which distributes food to some 500 families a week, couldn't operate because it was too dangerous for staffers to travel to work. Even the Meals on Wheels program stops deliveries when winter hits hard.

"When schools are closed we don't expect people, and that usually means volunteers, to go out and deliver," said Jobcy Alexander, the nutrition coordinator for Cobb County Senior Services, which operates the food delivery program. Some organizations affected by the storm say they don't expect things will be back to normal no matter how fast the mercury climbs.

The Salvation Army of Metropolitan Atlanta, which provided emergency meals, beverages and blankets for passengers stranded at Atlanta's Greyhound bus terminal, said the three-day relief effort nearly depleted its food supplies. On top of needing to restock its own shelves, the agency put the call out for donations in anticipation of requests for help from people who will likely face high heating bills or who won't be able afford groceries.

Other agencies, including those caring for the homeless, made emergency appeals this week for prepared meals, toilet paper, sleeping bags, blankets and coats. While the winter's cold is taking its toll, apparently the one thing still in large supply is warm-hearted-people who want to do their jobs, and would if nature would allow them.—Bruce Trachtenberg